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  1. #1
    Senior Member PrairieDog's Avatar
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    Saddle break-in question

    Warning: This is a little long:

    My new Ruby came with a women's specific saddle (Specialized Body Geometry Toupe). Women's specific saddles have always been too wide for my narrow sit bones, and this one was no exception. So I switched it out for my old Selle San Marco Aramis Gel-around, which fits like a dream. Honest to goodness, it feels like I'm supported by a cloud.

    But it is black. And the saddle/bar tape color scheme of my new Ruby is white, and I really like that. Yes, I am that shallow.

    So I took the original Specialized saddle back to the LBS and asked them to exchange it for a men's specific version. It only had 50 miles on it (I rode it a bit before deciding I was going to be crippled if I kept it), but it was otherwise pristine, so they agreed. The new one should come in in another week or so.

    Meantime, I looked around for a white version of my dream saddle, but alas, it is discontinued. I found a Selle Italia SLR on ebay, NIB, that looked sort of like it and bought it. It came in last night, so I put it on the bike and tried it out this morning. It is not a dream saddle (but it looks really pretty). It fits a little better than the original Specialized, but it is still pressing pretty hard on one of my sit bones. The Specialized actually pressed on a nerve there, but today's ride felt more like plain old soreness than nerve pain.

    Here is/are my question(s): is there a "break-in" period for these kinds of saddles? Am I not remembering that I also had to break-in my beloved Selle San Marco? Is there a chance that the Selle Italia will "loosen up" a little in the spot that is giving me some trouble?

    And yes, failing all else, I will put the Selle San Marco back on the bike and switched out the white bar tape for the black. But I'd like to try to keep the white color scheme if possible.
    Specialized Ruby Expert; Salsa Casseroll, Rivendell Betty Foy; Xtracycle

  2. #2
    VoodooChile zoste's Avatar
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    I doubt that the Selle Italia will break in at all. My Selle Italia SLC was leather (I think) covered plastic. Plastic is going to feel the same after 10,000 miles as it feels today. Your sit bones might get used to it, though. If it's not that painful, give it time.

    Why switch out the white bar tape if you like the color? No one can see the saddle when you're on it.
    Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand

  3. #3
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PrairieDog View Post
    Warning: This is a little long:

    My new Ruby came with a women's specific saddle (Specialized Body Geometry Toupe). Women's specific saddles have always been too wide for my narrow sit bones, and this one was no exception. So I switched it out for my old Selle San Marco Aramis Gel-around, which fits like a dream. Honest to goodness, it feels like I'm supported by a cloud.

    But it is black. And the saddle/bar tape color scheme of my new Ruby is white, and I really like that. Yes, I am that shallow.

    So I took the original Specialized saddle back to the LBS and asked them to exchange it for a men's specific version. It only had 50 miles on it (I rode it a bit before deciding I was going to be crippled if I kept it), but it was otherwise pristine, so they agreed. The new one should come in in another week or so.

    Meantime, I looked around for a white version of my dream saddle, but alas, it is discontinued. I found a Selle Italia SLR on ebay, NIB, that looked sort of like it and bought it. It came in last night, so I put it on the bike and tried it out this morning. It is not a dream saddle (but it looks really pretty). It fits a little better than the original Specialized, but it is still pressing pretty hard on one of my sit bones. The Specialized actually pressed on a nerve there, but today's ride felt more like plain old soreness than nerve pain.

    Here is/are my question(s): is there a "break-in" period for these kinds of saddles? Am I not remembering that I also had to break-in my beloved Selle San Marco? Is there a chance that the Selle Italia will "loosen up" a little in the spot that is giving me some trouble?

    And yes, failing all else, I will put the Selle San Marco back on the bike and switched out the white bar tape for the black. But I'd like to try to keep the white color scheme if possible.
    There's not usually a break in period for non-leather saddles. I think there is a period of time to learn where the sweet spots are, and perhaps to adjust the saddle position and angle to make it easier to find and stay on the sweet spot.

    One recommendation I've read for non-balanced sit bone pressure is to rotate the saddle so the horn points just a little bit toward the side that has excess pressure. This moves the support zone to the rear and could reduce pressure. It wouldn't take much movement to make a difference. You could try off-pointing it by tiny increments until the excess pressure changes sides, and then scooch it back to find teh optimum benefit. You could end up trading a pressure issue for a chafing issue.

    Another thought is that you could have some sort of subcutaneous issue. If you have a med exam scheduled, I'd raise the question with your doctor, especially if this saddle adjustment makes no difference.

    Road Fan

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by PrairieDog View Post
    ...Here is/are my question(s): is there a "break-in" period for these kinds of saddles?...
    Yes. But it is YOU that will be doing the "breaking-in".

  5. #5
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    All saddles "break-in". That is, if you ascribe to the theory that break-in really means that the material is breaking down, and in the case of a leather saddle, this makes it more flexible and better able to mold the the rider's physical attributes. Plastic, steel, titanium, and even carbon will eventually begin breaking down. However, it is probably in such small increments that for your purpose it might not be of much help. I know from my own experience (three Sella Italia SLKs) that the oldest one by 18 months is more comfortable than the other two.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright
    Favorite rides in the stable: Indy Fab CJ Ti - Colnago MXL - S-Works Roubaix - Habanero Team Issue - Jamis Eclipse carbon/831

  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    There is a compromise going to happen here. The saddle will adjust itself a little- but it is waiting for your butt to adjust a lot to fit it.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  7. #7
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    Indeed, I personally don't think it's even possible to break in an all-leather saddle unless you take drastic measures. I agree that it's the human body that is being broken in.

    Back in the days when plastic saddles were available in just plain plastic (with no covering), we used to drill holes in the plastic to soften it. You could probably drill upwards into the plastic. If the bit chews up some of the stuffing or the leather, it's not really going to affect much except appearance, as everything is glued together anyway.

    I find that a modern leather and plastic saddle is most comfortable when it is absolutely dead level. The most expensive saddles are made for racing. I have been doing the long randonneur rides this year (on my fixed gear bike just for a challenge). My longest ride has been 600 km in under 25 hours (so I'm riding straight thru), and my San Marco Era saddle is comfortable for up to about 300 km. After that, it becomes excrutiatingly painful, especially when descending. (Remember, I have to keep pedaling all the time!)

    I mention the racing part because I have been racing for the past 35 years, and I still sit on the bike like a racer (see avatar above), with very low handlebars and weight distributed 40-60 front-back. This is what these saddles are designed for - a low position for up to 300 km (about the longest race a pro will ride, like Milano-San Remo).

    If you are like most of the people on this list (and I say this looking at the photos posted by the rest of you), your riding position is far more upright than mine. You are going to have far more weight on the saddle than I. Therefore, you should probably stay away from an expensive racing saddle and go for something with lots of padding, something designed to absorb more weight. And because the leather-covered plastic saddles will not appreciably break in any time soon, you will just have to experiment with different saddles. However, you will know right away which one is most comfortable. Saddles are not like shoes; they don't stretch to fit.

    L.

  8. #8
    Senior Member PrairieDog's Avatar
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    Okay, it sounded like the saddle wasn't going to develop any give, so I did some more research and ordered a Fizik Aliante. Came in the mail today and I took it for a test ride.

    Instant. Comfort.

    Maybe I can sell the other saddle on ebay...

    Thank you, everyone, for your input!
    Last edited by PrairieDog; 08-15-09 at 01:17 PM.
    Specialized Ruby Expert; Salsa Casseroll, Rivendell Betty Foy; Xtracycle

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